Raised Garden Ideas

Raised gardens are blessings for gardeners with mobility issues. Although good for raising vegetables such as lettuce and radishes, they're also great for landscaping, getting an early start on the growing season, creating special-purpose gardens or showcasing annuals. Build a durable, attractive set of boxes or assemble them from kits.

Landscaping Accents

Break a large vegetable garden into smaller raised boxes, and mulch the areas around them to make the area more interesting as well as improve access. Arrange raised boxes around patios for use as benches for gatherings or in a group in a yard as a conversation area. Terrace raised boxes up a hill to control erosion and provide better grades for planting. Use a multi-layered box with vertical layers spilling over with bright annuals to provide a focal point in a yard; fading plants can easily be replaced for a professional-looking display. Use raised boxes on your corner lot to discourage bike-riders from cutting across your corner, leaving tracks in lawn or plantings.

Early Start, Late Finish

Use raised box gardens to extend the growing season. Plants in raised gardens live later in the fall because they stand above the frost that settles on the ground. Convert your raised boxes to cold frames in the spring by digging out a few inches of soil and laying a storm window or wood frame with plastic stapled around it over the top; you'll have up to a month more time to start plants. When the weather warms, transplant them to the garden or another raised box, remove the cold frame top, fill the box and start a second crop of spinach, lettuce or other short-season crop. Start annuals and perennials in a raised garden for transplanting to borders and landscaping use. Just like the shopping centers, hold summer begonias and fall chrysanthemums in a convenient "nursery" until they are mature enough to replace spring bulbs and summer plants as they fade along the front walk. Once the mums are moved, start biennial pansies and foxglove to transplant next spring.

Special Gardens

Spread hardware cloth or landscape cloth in the bottom of a box to protect the plants inside from voles and other creatures. Provide a protected spot to plant those expensive tulips so the rodents can't burrow in. If your garden suffers from verticillium wilt or some other hard-to-beat soil-borne disease, a layer of landscape cloth in the bottom of a raised garden will allow a soil change each year to provide healthy soil for your tomatoes. Build gardens in special shapes, such as a star for red, white and blue flowers or an irregular bed of ivies finished with seating around a birch clump in a center tree well or planted in the box. Build a box near the back door or where it can be seen from the family room. Keeping a patch of pumpkins for Jack-o-lanterns, cabbage to roll with peanut butter or cucumbers and radishes to put in salads allows kids to make a visible contribution to the family pantry.

Keywords: raised garden ideas, special purpose gardens, landscaping accents

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.